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Fieldin, a smart farm operations management company, brings over 49 million hours of operation field data to the partnership, something Midnight Robotics CEO Yonatan Horovitz said will be invaluable in making its retrofit kits, which can be installed to make any tractor autonomous. Midnight Robotics was founded in 2019 by Horovitz and Edo Reshef, both veterans of LiDAR company Innoviz.
“This is the biggest dataset for agriculture. We’re utilizing this data in order to make an ideal operation in farms,” Horovitz said. “This is why this combination is amazing.”
Farms present unique challenges for autonomous driving systems. While there are fewer moving parts for an autonomous tractor to keep track of on a farm than a robotaxi on a street in the middle of a city, many farms don’t have access to GPS data, making localization a challenging task.
Midnight Robotics uses LiDAR data to solve this issue, and began testing its retrofitting kits in vineyards and orchards first, as they have the least room for error. After perfecting its technology in more difficult environments, it was easy to use the same technology in open fields with much simpler setups.
Fieldin has digitized hundreds of farms and thousands of tractors and pieces of farming equipment. This data helps it to have insights into farming best practices. Boaz Bachar, CEO of Fieldin, hopes that Fieldin could provide farmers with invaluable insights into how to be more productive, and Midnight Robotics could build on that relationship with its retrofitting kits.
“We’re starting with digitization of the farm, understanding the ideal fleet operation and providing accurate insight about how tractors should behave,” Horovitz said. “Then we transition into auto steering or autonomous driving.”
The future of farming
Both Horovitz and Bachar believe autonomous farming is the future of farming, even if we’re still far off from completely autonomous farms from being a reality. Due to a higher demand for food and fewer employees, automation seems like a natural direction.
“Between the threat to operational efficiency and the cost of employees, the next step is to be fully autonomous,” Bachar said.
That’s why Fieldin and Midnight Robotics are looking to expand its technology to farming equipment outside of tractors.
Bachar and Horovitz hope that Fieldin’s extensive data on farming efficiency, and Midnight Robotic’s LiDAR expertise can help set them apart from competitors.
In August 2021, John Deere acquired Bear Flag Robotics, another company that specializes in autonomous driving technology for tractors. Bear Flag Robotics also creates a retrofitting kit that can make existing tractors run autonomously.